Formula 1 heads east for the first Turkish Grand Prix in nine years as the paddock returns to a favourite former venue at Istanbul Park

The season is heading into its closing stages with 13 races already completed and just four remaining after a whirlwind 2020. The constructors’ championship is settled, with the drivers’ title race soon to follow, but there are still plenty of talking points heading to Turkey…

Fight for third intensifies 

The most intense score that still needs to be settled before the season is out is the scrap for third place in the constructors’ championship, and it looks like it will go down to the wire. 

A second podium for Daniel Ricciardo in three races at Imola helped Renault leapfrog its rivals into the much sought-after P3 position on 135 points, but the French manufacturer cannot afford to relax with Racing Point and McLaren breathing down its neck. 

Renault heads its two main rivals by just a single point heading into the final four rounds of the season, though it has enjoyed the stronger form in recent races. 

The battle is finely poised with Renault boasting the best upward trajectory over the past weeks, although Racing Point still appears to have the outright fastest package, while McLaren is the only outfit out of the three to be pressing ahead with upgrades for its 2020 car after slipping behind on performance. 

Ferrari is also in mathematical contention, though team principal Mattia Binotto has conceded it is now going to be “very difficult” to properly get involved in the fight given it is currently trailing McLaren and Racing Point by 31 points in sixth place. 

Charles Leclerc has claimed back-to-back top five finishes in Portugal and Italy, but Sebastian Vettel’s struggles to regularly take points, coupled with Ferrari lacking pace compared to its rivals, makes third an unlikely prospect. 

Hamilton eyes title No.7 

Lewis Hamilton heads to Turkey knowing that he will be champion for a record-equalling seventh time if he finishes the race weekend with a 78-point lead over his Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas

Bottas needs to outscore Hamilton by at least eight points in order to keep the title fight alive and postpone Hamilton’s seemingly-inevitable coronation for at least another race. You can see the full title permutations for this weekend here

A seventh drivers’ crown for Hamilton - and fourth title in a row - will draw him level of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record that has stood unrivalled since 2004. 

Hamilton, who surpassed Schumacher’s pole position record back in 2017 and also eclipsed his 91 wins benchmark at the Portuguese Grand Prix last month, is edging closer to stand alone as the most successful F1 driver of all time. 

Albon and Stroll in the spotlight 

Both Alex Albon and Lance Stroll will arrive in Istanbul under pressure for very different reasons. 

While Albon is in need of a strong performance following a pair of disappointing races in Portugal and Italy as he looks to secure his Red Bull seat for 2021, Stroll hasn’t scored a point since his podium at the Italian Grand Prix at Monza

It could be a make-or-break weekend for Albon with time running out to persuade Red Bull that it doesn’t need to look at other options such as Nico Hulkenberg or Sergio Perez to partner Max Verstappen next season. Since scoring his breakthrough maiden podium at Mugello, the Thai racer has returned just one point. 

Stroll had been sitting fourth in the drivers’ championship after Monza and is still on course for his strongest season in F1 despite falling to 11th in the standings. A tyre failure sent him crashing out of a strong position at the Tuscan GP, while he was taken out on the first lap in Russia by Charles Leclerc. 

Stroll then missed the Eifel GP owning to an illness that later transpired to be COVID-19. On his return, Stroll appeared rusty as he clashed with Lando Norris in Portugal and struggled to 13th at Imola. 

Racing Point’s technical director Andy Green admitted after Imola that Stroll had taken a “physical and mental battering”, but team principal Otmar Szafnauer has insisted he is now “firing on all cylinders”. Will he return to form in Turkey?

When is the Turkish GP on TV? 

Friday November 13 

Free Practice 1: 08:00am-09:30am (11:00am-12:30pm local)
Free Practice 2: 12:00pm-1:30pm (3:00pm-4:00pm local) 

Saturday November 14 

Free Practice 3: 09:00am-10:00am (12:00pm-1:00pm local)
Qualifying: 12:00pm-1:00pm (3:00pm-4:00pm local)

Sunday November 15 

Race: 10:10am start (1:10pm start local) 

Turkish GP tyre allocation 

For the Turkish GP at Istanbul, Pirelli is bringing the C1 (Hard), C2 (Medium) and C3 (Soft) compounds. 

For all of the races in the revised 2020 season, each driver will have an allocation of eight sets of the red-walled Softs, three sets of the yellow-walled Mediums, and two sets of the white-walled Hards.

Previous Turkish GP Winners: 

2011: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2010: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
2009: Jenson Button (Brawn)
2008: Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2007: Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2006: Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
2005: Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) 

 

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